14.2 - Going Ape [Joe's Tale]

So Tahi starts marching us inland, and we follow along, and all those crazy butterflies start picking her up and carrying her along, but we get to like break trail through the jungle, which means me, of course, cause even Roddy gets tired of doing the Tarzan tree-to-tree thing after a bit. And, of course, all I get for my troubles is this Tahi saying I’m leaving a trail for us to be followed, which is because everyone’s following along in my trail, right?

That makes sense.

Plus she’s all, “Hey, obviously I came in peace, I was just trying to keep Joseph --” She keeps calling me Joseph. “–from doing more harm, and Joseph is ‘without his facilities,’ and I thought he was evil but he was just ignorant,” and stuff like that."

How did you feel about that?

Like I was being talked about in the third person.

Hmmm.

So we finally reach the crest, then kind of drop down a bit, and we can see on the ridge a whole ruined city, covered in those strangler figs – thick enough, if you were flying oer or something, you wouldn’t know they were there. And she’s walking us through all these ruins, and it’s actually getting kinda tight for me to squeeze through, then she does a light show on the rocks to make the wall slide aside, like on the temple at the museum, and we go down stairs and the lights come on and we’re in this ancient auditorium.

All … right.

I know. I mean, like a dozen bad movies, but it all has this very weird, tip of my tongue, kinda familiar sense, y’know? But I can’t concentrate on that 'cause she’s busy introducing herself, and then she tells Mette she’s also tring to keep me from hurting people, and I’ve like had enough, so I push the question: what happened to me."

(After a long silence.) And?

And she told me.

(After a long silence.) And?

So she starts talking about how I was badly injured and put in stasis for like ten years, and then all healed up and given the name Joseph Moore, and I’m like, what the fuck, excuse me, and she’s all, well, you know your people have been using the temple for years, and I’m like still what the fuck, excuse me, and then Alex show her a picture of me from before (and where the hell they got that) and this Tahi is suddenly what the fuck, excuse me, and there’s like this society of giant apes been using this temple in africa for a long time, and one of them was old and injured and put into stasis, kinda like Kiln was, 'cause Kiln’s people like taught them about their tech, and so they took it over after, and –

Wait, this is getting confusing.

So this society of giant apes, looks like this, were like servants, or students, or acolytes, or something, to these Ancients at the temple. Then the Ancients were gone, and the apes took over, like “Temple of the Apes,” and fast forward to few years back and one of theirs is all in a healing tube, but his mind is gone or spirit fled or something, so when I’m shot and dying and these apes find me, they take me back and –

… And … put you in one of their healing tubes?

No. They put my brain into one of their bodies.

(Pause.) Hmmm.

Yeah, not what I was thinking. I mean, I always figured, whoever did this, however they did it, they just kinda – gorillified me. Like a mutation thing, or tapping into my cave man genes or something. But I was still me, just … altered state. Right? But it’s not. I’m – I was one of those things. An actual giant gorilla person.

I’m not sure the distinction –

And I’m, like, remembering more than before, this big stone slab, these gorilla people, and I hurt so much, and I’m cold, and then I’m in the grass, and the Quill people, they’re dropping out of a chopper toward me, and then I’m hearing Alex asking if it can be undone, and Tahi’s all, this is waaaaay too weird, never been done before, oh boy, and I’m, well, transplant my brain back into a human body, and she’s it’s not a transplant, more like they backed up my brain and restored me in the gorilla body, and that’s all there is now, just it.

You.

Yeah, for, like they say, certain values of “me.” And Tahi’s all, they had to have a reason, but damfino, and I just – I need a minute alone, and I go over to the door and stare at the wall for a bit. And then I walk out.

You – walk out.

Yeah. Just. I can’t be there. With them. And I’m not. It’s this thing I am, pretending to be me.

You think it’s a pretence?

I’m dead. Joey Moore’s dead. Died on the table. Or the slab. Put on a slab from the slab, right? I’m dead, my body’s dead, my brain’s dead, I’m just a ghost in a gorilla body, a giant gorilla who has fake memories of being human.

(Pause.) Mind transfer is … an ethically and –

I don’t want to hear it! Sorry, I mean, I just … I realized I wasn’t really human, meaning I can’t – I shouldn’t be with them. With anyone. And I realize I’m walking back to the sub, which is where they’ll go, so I hang a right and head into the jungle. They’re better off without me. She’s better off without me. That’s all I can think.

Until …

Until?

Well, clearly, you’re not walking through the jungle any more.

Oh. Yeah. Well, I’m walking a bit, when I realize the biggest mosquito in jungle is zooming right at me, and it turns out to be one of Alex’ drones, and it like, throws one of their bionic arms at me and says, with their voice, “Can I give you a hand?”

Continued in … 14.1 - Can I give you a hand?

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